The results of the first year of monitoring of new ponds created under the NatureSpace District Licensing Scheme show that 42% of the compensation sites have been colonised by Great Crested Newts, despite being less than a year old at the time of survey.
A total of 57 clean-water ponds have been created and eight restored by the Newt Conservation Partnership, NatureSpace’s not-for-profit conservation partner, since the scheme was founded in 2018. The first year of monitoring results are available to read in a progress report recently produced by the Newt Partnership.
The NatureSpace scheme operates in 16 Local Planning Authorities across the South Midlands. Approved and licensed by Natural England, the scheme removes risk and uncertainty for developers, and dramatically speeds up the licensing process. Developments that may potentially impact on great crested newts are often constrained into completing detailed surveys during a small three-month window once a year; the NatureSpace scheme offers a year-round solution for assessing sites, avoiding survey season restrictions and unforeseen delays.
The scheme, which is supported by the national conservation NGOs, the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust and the Freshwater Habitats Trust, ensures a sustainable future for great crested newts through long-term, landscape-scale conservation delivered by the Newt Conservation Partnership. For every pond lost, the scheme aims to create or restore eight high quality ponds, as well as ensuring good quality terrestrial habitat is available.
NatureSpace CEO, Dr Tom Tew commented: “These monitoring results demonstrate what fantastic conservation work the NatureSpace scheme is doing for great crested newts. Working with the Newt Conservation Partnership, we have expanded the amount of high-quality terrestrial habitat directly available to great crested newts by nearly 300 hectares across the South Midlands. Most of the compensation ponds have already exceeded the target Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) rating of “Good” (0.7+).”
Dr Andrew Buxton from the Newt Conservation Partnership added: “Results from the monitoring programme provide a baseline from which we can track great crested newt colonisation of compensation sites and report on net gain. They also provide us with useful feedback so we can continue to assess our technical work and maximise the benefits of habitat creation and management for great crested newts in the future.”
To learn more about the NatureSpace scheme and how it is supporting development and sustainable conservation across the South Midlands, please visit: https://naturespaceuk.com/district-licensing-scheme/
You can read the monitoring report in full here https://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Summary-doc-pdf-to-share.pdf